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									                 EXPEDITION LOG
                VOYAGE TO ANTARCTICA
                              On Board
                   M/V CORINTHIAN II
                February 20-March 2, 2009

Log Written by: Jean Kenyon
            On Board M/V Corinthian II
Captain:                 Peter Gluschke
Chief Mate:              Alex Trofimenko
Hotel Manager:           Victor Chuy
Chief Purser:            Thomas Galiatsatos
Chef:                    Yiannis Pertselakis

Duke University Alumni Association Guest Lecturer:
Orrin Pilkey

Travel Dynamics International:
Cruise Director: Peter Graham
Expedition Leader: Marco Favero
Expedition Staff:
Samuel Blanc
Jean Kenyon
Rodolfo Werner Kinkelin
Oleg Kochuyev
Trevor Potts
Patricia Silva Rodriguez

We must always remember with gratitude and
admiration the first sailors who steered their
vessels through storms and mists, and increased
our knowledge of the lands of ice in the South.

                                  Roald Amundsen

Friday, February 20, 2009
Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina Longitude 68º 18.5’W / Latitude 54º 48.5’S

    With the golden light of an austral late summer evening
spilling over the harbor, Corinthian II slipped from her berth in
Ushuaia at 17:20, beginning our 552 nautical mile journey to
Antarctica. Those on deck for the sail away were able to enjoy
the brilliant sun illuminating the colorful buildings of Ushuaia,
the southernmost city in the world that proudly calls itself “el
fin del mundo”. Greater and Sooty Shearwaters, Kelp Gulls, South
American Terns, and Rock Shags were observed from the ship as we
began our passage along the verdant hills of the Beagle Channel
towards our destinations: the South Shetland Islands and the
Antarctic Peninsula. The Channel, 67 miles long, which separates
the Chilean islands from Argentina, was named after one of the
ships by which it was discovered, the Beagle, which would later
return with Charles Darwin aboard.

     We are 79 strong and eager adventurers from the United
States, Canada, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, and Australia,
ranging in age from 12 to 89.

     Shortly after we sailed, our Cruise Director Peter Graham
explained some of the practical details of life at sea. After
exiting the sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel we will enter
the Drake Passage. This passage, which extends 400 miles across,
is named after Sir Francis Drake and is famous for having some of
the roughest seas in the world. This is where many sailing ships
of the past fell victim to treacherous conditions. However this
is the stretch of water one must cross if sailing from South
America to Antarctica. Unlike the mariners of old, we are
fortunate to be onboard a very comfortable vessel! Expedition
Leader Marco Favero, who will oversee our shore landings and
other outdoor encounters in the Antarctic region, introduced the
Expedition Team, an international group of knowledgeable and
experienced naturalists and zodiac drivers who will help to

interpret the wildlife and historical background of the areas we
are privileged to be visiting. Following dinner and some
socializing in the Club, most passengers chose an early evening,
retiring to their cabins to settle in for what promises to be an
exciting and stimulating expedition.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Sailing the Drake Passage
09:00 Position: Longitude:            64º 31’W
                Latitude:             57º 14’S
                Wind:                 NW 15-20 knots
                Sea:                  NW swells of 2-3 meters
                Air temperature:      48ºF
                Sea temperature:      42ºF
                Ship’s speed:         13.5 knots

                              By midnight, the ship had squared
                         her shoulders, left the safety of the
                         Beagle Channel, and set course for the
                         South Shetland Islands across the Drake
                         Passage. King Neptune was kind to us and
                         did not demonstrate his legendary powers
                         of blowing the seas into a raging froth
                         that would rearrange our cabins and
                         disturb our sleep. Instead, the seas
                         were relatively calm but still alive
                         with enough white-capped waves and
                         rolling motion to remind us of our
                         remote and exotic location. A small but
                         hearty group gathered on the rear deck
at 0830 to be dazzled by the Black-browed and Wandering
Albatrosses and Giant Petrels soaring outside in their natural
domain. We were in awe seeing the majestic Wandering Albatrosses
glide around our ship with their enormous wingspan that can reach
up to 11.5 feet. Because of their long, narrow wings they are
well suited to flight in the open ocean where wind is plentiful.

     We settled in for a day of lectures that
would give us more background information and
context with which to appreciate the unique
region of the world we are about to visit.
Naturalist Patricia Silva Rodriguez gave an
introductory lecture “Seabirds of the Southern
Ocean” that illuminated the diversity of
seabirds we will encounter during our travels,
including penguins, albatrosses, petrels, gulls,
and cormorants. Following lunch (and most likely
a nap, as the rocking motion of the sea was very
conducive to dozing after a hearty mid-day meal)
many guests chose to attend a duo of lectures.

The first lecture, offered by Orrin Pilkey of the Duke University
Alumni Association and entitled, “The Rising Seas and the Role of
the World’s Ice Sheets“, highlighted current trends in rising sea
level, the factors thought to be primarily responsible for these
trends, and predictions for the future of the world’s coastal
cities and other communities. As a final lecture for the day,
expedition staff member Trevor Potts presented “A Brief History
of Antarctic Exploration”, reminding us of the rigors endured by
the original Antarctic explorers, as Trevor traced the heroic yet
heart-wrenching endeavors of Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen.

                               I may not have proved a great
                               explorer, but we have done the
                               greatest march ever made and come
                               very near to great success. Had
                               we lived I should have had a tale
                               to tell of the hardihood,
                               endurance and courage of my
                               companions which would have
                               stirred the heart of every
                               Englishman. These rough notes and
                               our dead bodies must tell the

                               Robert Falcon Scott

I seemed to vow to myself that some day I would go to
the region of ice and snow and go on and on till I
came to one of the poles of the earth, the end of the
axis upon which this great round ball turns.

Ernest Shackleton

                     In the evening before dinner, we gathered in
                the lounge with our drinks for the first of our
                daily meetings in which expedition staff
                highlighted special events of the day and we are
                briefed on anticipated activities for the
                following day. Jean Kenyon gave a short
                explanation of the Antarctic Convergence, an
                oceanographic feature in which the warm waters to
                the north meet (converge with) the colder waters
                to the south, initiating a process of intensive
                mixing which in turn stimulates development of
                large populations of marine plankton, the basis of
                the food chain. Trevor Potts used a rope marked at
                measured intervals to show us the wing spans of
                the various seabirds we have seen and will
                continue to see throughout our travels; now that
                our eyes had a scale for comparison, the wingspan
                of the Wandering Albatross was especially

Sunday, February 22, 2009
Drake Passage/Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands

08:30 Position: Longitude:              60º 08’W
                Latitude:              61º 53’S
                Wind:                  W 5-10 knots
                Sea:                   slight, from the west
                Air temperature:       41ºF
                Sea temperature:       37ºF
                Ship’s speed:          11.5 knots

     The seas continued to calm during the night, and by morning
there were squadrons of Cape Petrels flying about the ship as we
continued towards the South Shetland Islands. Patricia Silva
Rodriguez began our day of new
experiences with a lecture
presentation “Penguins, Birds and
Tuxedos” in which she familiarized
us with the three “brushtail”
penguin species we will encounter
during our sojourns over the next
six days: Chinstraps, Gentoos, and
Adelies. After Patricia’s lecture
many passengers ventured onto deck
and were rewarded with views of our
avian escorts including Wandering
and Black-browed Albatrosses, Giant
Petrels, and Cape Petrels as they
made repeated passes up the sides
of the ship.

                                                     As the day
                                                 progressed, it
                                                 was starting to
                                                 look and feel
                                                 more and more
                                                 like Antarctica.
                                                 Air and sea
                                                 plummeted as we
                                                 crossed the
                                                 Convergence. As
                                                 Jean had
                                                 explained to us
                                                 the previous
evening, the Convergence is an oceanographic feature in which
cold, dense, southerly waters come in contact with warmer, less
dense, northerly waters and begin a process of intense thermal
and nutrient mixing. Because nutrients are brought to the surface
where they are available to phytoplankton (the basis of the
marine food chain), the Convergence is an area of great
biological productivity and high diversity of marine life.
Seawater temperature decreased more than 5oF during a two-hour
period in which we crossed the meandering boundaries of the

     Much of the morning was consumed with housekeeping chores –
IAATO (International Association of
Antarctic Tour Operators) Visitor
Guidelines, a zodiac briefing, and a
boot decontamination session, with Oleg
and Rodolpho providing the brushes and
the muscle. The boot decontamination
prevents us from inadvertently
introducing microbes or seeds clinging
to our footwear that might be
detrimental to the Antarctic
environment. Most of us lingered on
deck after our boots were
decontaminated to marvel at the
spectacular scenery unfolding around us
as we were now sailing amidst the
jagged black rocks and snow-clad
mountains of the South Shetland Islands.

Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands

      We had made good time crossing the Drake Passage and so we
were able to make our first disembarkation in the afternoon, at
Half Moon Island off the eastern shore of Livingston Island in
the South Shetland Islands. This crescent-shaped island is only 2
km long, but has a sizable rookery of Chinstrap penguins as well
as nesting Antarctic Terns, Kelp Gulls, and Antarctic Fur Seals.
Cruise Director Peter Graham organized the disembarkation by
calling groups of guests to don their
freshly-cleaned boots and warm outdoor gear,
and with the help of the ship’s crew we
loaded the zodiacs and were taken ashore by
the skilled zodiac drivers. Expedition Leader
Marco was at the landing site to assist us in
disembarking the zodiac, after which he
informed each group of the area in which it
was safe to walk while exploring this site.
Just a short walk up from the beach we
encountered scattered rookeries with hundreds
of molting Chinstrap penguins. The juveniles
that had hatched earlier in the austral
spring were exchanging their fluffy down for
adult plumage, and the adults were also
undergoing their annual molt. The Chinstraps
were all very still and barely moved, as they
cannot go into the sea to feed until they
have acquired fresh, waterproof feathers and
therefore go without food during their molt. An occasional Brown
Skua soared fearlessly across the cloudy sky, and the
mountainous, icy landscape made a stunning backdrop. It was
dazzling to be where we were, here in the Antarctic region,
observing wildlife in its native habitat that we had previously
only known from photos, magazines, or documentary movies. It was
an excellent first landing in this last great wilderness where
wildlife continues to prosper in an intact ecosystem. On
returning to Corinthian II, many guests chose to remain on deck
as the dramatic scenery unfolded during the ship’s passage to our
next destination, the Antarctic Sound.

     Having navigated the Drake Passage and enjoyed our first
glimpse ashore of Antarctica, we celebrated in style this evening
with the Captain’s Welcome dinner.

Monday, February 23, 2009
Antarctic Sound, Brown Bluff

08:30 Position: Longitude:              56º 23’W
                Latitude:              63º 29’S
                Wind:                  light
                Sea:                   calm
                Air temperature:       39ºF
                Sea temperature:       32ºF

     Leaving King George Island in the South Shetlands last
evening, the ship crossed Bransfield Strait and headed to the
Antarctic Sound, a body of water that separates the Joinville
Island group from the northeast end of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Though we had planned to land at the Argentine station Esperanza
in Hope Bay, a supply ship was off-loading stores that would
sustain the station over the winter and, because research-
oriented operations have priority in the Antarctic region, we
were not given permission to land. Thus we began a day of true
expedition-style cruising, adapting ourselves to the reality of
conditions presented by the Antarctic realm.

Brown Bluff: Longitude 56º 52’W / Latitude 63º 31’S

      Instead we proceeded to Brown Bluff, the flat remnants of
an ancient volcano. Located on the Tabarin Peninsula, an
extension of the Antarctic Peninsula, Brown Bluff constituted our
first landing on the continent of Antarctica. Calm seas and good

visibility contributed to an easy landing
on the pebble beach. It was ideal for our
visit that the tide was going out, as more
than a hundred Antarctic Fur Seals were
scattered along the beach, resting just
above the tide line. Antarctic Fur Seals
can be aggressive if approached too
closely, so we were able to enjoy excellent
views of these animals without arousing
their territorial instincts. A number of
juveniles bantered among themselves,
practicing social behaviors that will be
important when they are more reproductively
mature. Numerous Gentoo Penguins roamed the
beach and the black cobbles that became
exposed as the tide continued to recede,
but many other Gentoos were immobile
because they were undergoing a plumage
molt. An occasional squardron of Blue-eyed
Cormorants could be seen flying across the
water, and Cape Petrels, which had
accompanied the ship after crossing the
Antarctic Convergence, here were splashing
and feeding in the shallows. The massive
volcanic bluff after which this site is named loomed above all
                      this wildlife activity, making for a
                      majestic, contrasting backdrop. Before
                      returning to the ship our zodiac drivers
                      took us on a brief cruise amongst the
                      several blue-etched icebergs floating near
                      the ship’s calm anchorage, allowing us to
                      glimpse a Leopard Seal as well as a Weddell
                      Seal hauled up on the floes. Many of us
                      would have lingered at Brown Bluff to
                      further enjoy the still, fresh air and
                      dramatic scenery, but there was nautical
                      distance to cover so that we could make
                      more landfalls further south along the
                      Antarctic Peninsula in the days to come.

    After lunch (and a nap for many), we resumed our schedule of
informative lectures to balance the visual splendor with some
intellectual stimulation. Orrin Pilkey of the Duke University
Alumni Association presented “A Celebration of the World’s
Barrier Islands” describing the processes by which barrier
islands are formed and maintained, and providing examples from
around the world to highlight some of the ways in which human
alteration has affected their natural geological dynamics. Jean
Kenyon offered “Pinnipeds of the Antarctic Region”, an overview
of the eared and earless seals that inhabit this area, including

the Antarctic Fur Seal, Leopard Seal, and Weddell Seal species
already seen at Half Moon Island and Brown Bluff.

    By early evening we had crossed east to west through the
Antarctic Sound and began to move south along the Antarctic
Peninsula towards tomorrow’s destinations. At the evening recap,
Orrin Pilkey explained some of the geological details he had
observed at Brown Bluff, and Samuel Blanc of the expedition staff
refreshed our memories of the various pinnipeds seen at Brown
Bluff. Our Ukrainian zodiac driver Oleg had edited a video he had
taken of the Leopard Seal sinuously twisting and turning
underwater around the zodiac during the excursion among the
icebergs off Brown Bluff, and had set his video to music; now
everyone was able to enjoy this unusual spectacle by the
Antarctic’s top predator, thanks to the technical skills of our
quiet zodiac driver.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Cuverville Island/Port Lockroy

Cuverville Island: Longitude 62º 38’W / Latitude 64º 41’S

     Morning found us in the Gerlache Strait anticipating a
landing to Cuverville Island, which was discovered in 1897-99 and
named after a vice admiral in the French Navy. The nesting Gentoo
Penguin population on this island (~4000 penguins) is one of the
largest gatherings of this species in Antarctica. The light
snowfall, which waxed and waned throughout our visit, added to
the authenticity of our Antarctic experience. The tall, mist-
shrouded peaks of both the Antarctic Continent and adjacent Rongé
Island provided a dramatic backdrop to the extensive, raucous
gathering of Gentoos that greeting our eyes on coming ashore. As
was the case with the Chinstrap Penguins seen at Half Moon Island
and the Gentoos at Brown Bluff, the vast majority of Gentoos here
were molting, including the young of the year who were losing
their fluffy down in exchange for waterproof feathers and the

            mature adults who were exchanging last year’s plumage
            for a new set of freshly waterproofed feathers. A few
            nests still contained one or two young chicks that
            were guarded by a parent; however, these chicks were
            hatched very late in the season and likely will not
            be able to complete their full development before the
            harsh Antarctic weather sets in. Along the shoreline,
            a steady parade of adults, secure in their
            waterproofed plumage, entered the frigid water and
            were cleansed of the guano that was a pungent
            characteristic of the damp, slippery colony. As the
            snow began to swirl ever more thickly about us, it
            was time to head back to the warmth and comfort of
            the Corinthian II, and the welcome cup of hot
            bouillon offered to us upon our arrival by the dining

     As we returned to the Gerlache Strait and proceded towards
the Neumeyer Channel towards our afternoon destination, a
Humpback Whale was seen near the ship, and the Captain skillfully
maneuvered the ship so that we could enjoy close views of this
migratory marine mammal for which the Antarctic waters represent
a rich, summertime feeding area.

     In preparation for our landing at Port Lockroy, a
documentary film, “Ice Cool Britannia: The Story of Port Lockroy
and the Antarctic Peninsula” was shown in the lounge.

     Afternoon found us in the Neumeyer Channel anticipating a
landing to Bransfield House on
Goudier Island. Port Lockroy,
known as “Base A”, was
established in 1944 by the
British to report on enemy
activity and to provide weather
reports during the Second World
War. After the war, it
continued as a scientific base
under the auspices of British
Antarctic Survey (BAS),
primarily doing ionospheric
research, and it played a key
role during the International
Geophysical Year in 1957/8. BAS
relocated its science to the
other side of Antarctica and the
Base closed in 1962 and fell
into disrepair. It was
renovated by UK Antarctic Heritage Trust in 1994 and was
designated a Historical Site and Monument No. 61 under the
Antarctic Treaty.

                                 The base is staffed by four people
                             throughout the austral summer. They
                             maintain the base and run the small shop
                             which finances the heritage restoration
                             operation. They also run an environmental
                             monitoring program investigating visitor
                             disturbance to the breeding Gentoo
                             Penguins. It appears that the penguins
                             visited by tourists enjoy higher breeding
                             success than those outside the tourist-
                             visited areas. It is thought that this is
                             because the presence of human tourists
                             interferes with normal levels of egg and
                             chick predation by
                             skuas. Before it is
                             concluded, however,
                             that tourists have
a positive overall effect, it should be
remembered that it is important to consider our
effect on the entire ecosystem, not just on
individual species. After looking around the
old base there was time for shopping, mailing
postcards, and viewing the displays in the
museum. Outdoors, Gentoo Penguins were in
various stages of breeding, from a few active
nests with a parent guarding chicks, to
juveniles molting into their adult plumage. The
Gentoos near Bransfield House are very
habituated to humans, and while we have been
cautioned to keep a distance of 5 meters from
penguins, several guests had the delightful
experience of being approached by a fluffy
juvenile and having the tips of their hiking
sticks thoroughly explored. The light snowfall
that had drifted upon us intermittently at Cuverville Island settled
in here for the afternoon, with large, wet flakes filling the air and
lightly blanketing the surroundings and ourselves. The Gentoo Penguins
and Snowy Sheathbills that prowled the colony for stray bits of
organic matter to feed on were completely in their element, and we
enjoyed the ambiance of a genuine Antarctic experience.

      For the evening recap session, Rick Atkinson, the Station
Manager of Bransfield House, came onboard along with the three young
women who also staff the site to give us a brief overview of the
history of the station and answer the myriad of questions with which
they were peppered. Rick and the ladies stayed onboard for dinner and
to take a hot shower, as they have no shower facility at the station
and must rely on the hospitality of cruise ships for a good, hot
scrubbing. We were glad to accommodate them as they had shown us such
hospitality and courtesy during our visit ashore, and they also took
our stamped postcards back to the station for posting.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Lemaire Channel/Pleneau Ice Cruising/Palmer Station

     We were roused this morning by Marco’s announcement that
the Corinthian II was approaching the Lemaire Channel, a steep-
sided channel just 1600 meters wide that runs for 11 kilometers
between the mountains of Booth Island and the Peninsula. Although
the heavy mist obscured the tops of the peaks, the rugged black
cliffs towering above the ship and the thick rafts of brash ice
sprinkled throughout the channel produced the visual drama for
which the Lemaire Channel is known.

                                After a satisfying breakfast
                           buffet we left the ship for zodiac
                           cruising among the many scattered and
                           stranded icebergs around Pleneau and
                           Booth Islands. Looking past the
                           icebergs we tried to pinpoint the
                           source of these massive structures and
                           observed that in between the islands’
                           razor-sharp ridges, large sheets of
                           ice slowly march down the slopes
                           waiting to calve and become icebergs.

                               Our reference points seemed
                           inadequate as we tried to describe the
                           remarkable ice shapes. The slender
spires of a pinnacled iceberg looked like baleen whalebones while
the air tunnels of an overturned berg looked very much like a
classic Greek temple. The mist-muted morning light softly
illuminated the glaciers and snowfields and accentuated the blue
and green hues emanating from the icebergs. We also caught sight
of several Leopard and Crabeater Seals hauled out on the ice
floes, sometimes sharing the same floe. Although Leopard Seals
are predators, the adult Crabeater Seals are too large for them
to prey on, and so the two species can share a floe peaceably.

    Our cruising amongst the icebergs represented the
southernmost position during our journey, dipping just below 65o
S latitude. Again we transited through the Lemaire Channel, this
time passing from south to north, giving those who had preferred
to loll in bed earlier in the morning another opportunity to
drink in this narrow and scenic channel.

                                     In the afternoon, sated by
                                an ample lunch buffet, we
                                disembarked for a visit to Palmer
                                Station, one of three research
                                stations operated by the United
                                States in Antarctica. First,
                                however, the Station Manager and
                                Lab Manager came onboard and gave
                                us a concise overview of the U.S.
                                Antarctic Program supported by
                                the National Science Foundation.
Originally built in 1968 on the southwestern coast of Anvers
Island, Palmer Station has undergone various renovations and,
while it accommodates up to 46 people, 31 currently operate
there. We were given a walking tour of the station including a
peek into two aquariums filled with anemones, sea urchins, krill,
and fish, and later we shopped for souvenirs at the station
store. Research at Palmer focuses on the long-term monitoring of
the marine ecosystem, with an emphasis on seabirds and krill, and
the effects of increased ultraviolet radiation (in turn caused by
the ozone hole) on marine and terrestrial communities. Climate
change has resulted in an increase of more than 5oF over the past
50 years, which has resulted in a decrease in sea-ice cover,
receding glaciers, and a shift in penguin populations from the
cold-weather Adelies to the warmer-weather Gentoos and
Chinstraps. Our visit ended in the common area where meals are
prepared and served and where residents gather to read and
socialize; there we were treated to coffee and rich brownies and
the chance to interact more closely with station personnel.

     The seas had been rough during our transit
between Pleneau Island and Palmer Station, so
we stayed at a calm anchorage off Palmer for
the evening recap and dinner. At the recap,
Orrin Pilkey shared his excitement over the
beaches of Antarctica, and our zodiac driver
Samuel proudly shared some of the French
history of exploration in this area that has
resulted in many local place names. Patricia
gave a hilarious presentation describing the
characteristics and behavior of an albatross
species she is currently researching, the Red-
Coated Albatross, which bears an uncanny resemblance to our own
current human selves and companions.

Thursday, February 26, 2009
Neko Harbor/Melchior Islands

Neko Harbor: Longitude 62º 33’W / Latitude 64º 51’S

     Around 0800 Corinthian II reached Andvord Bay and the
protected Neko Harbor. Many were out on deck to marvel at the
spectacular mountains and glaciers on either side of the ship and
their mirrored reflection in the glass-calm water. After
breakfast we disembarked for our second, and final, landing on
the Antarctic continent itself (our first having been Brown
Bluff). A fair amount of brash ice had collected in the calm
waters near shore and our zodiac drivers had to carefully
maneuver through this gauntlet of ice. Once ashore, as was
customary Expedition Leader Marco delivered a briefing describing
the general nature of the site, and then we were free to explore
within the area he had designated was safe for both ourselves and
our interaction with the wildlife.

      A small Argentine refugio (refuge hut)
that was erected here in 1949 and equipped with
emergency supplies had been completed devastated
by a strong storm on February 17, just 9 days
ago. The wooden remains of the hut were strewn
about the hillside, and it could be imagined how
a strong wind gusting down the hillside from the
heights above had blown the hut apart. Plates,
lanterns, and food containers could be seen
among the wreckage. Although it cannot be known
what effect such a strong storm had on the
Gentoo population here, numerous penguins
continued to go about their regular business.
Hundreds of Gentoos were sprinkled about the
site, many of which were molting from their

juvenile to their adult plumage. Small clusters of young penguins
that had completed their molt paraded along the shoreline, and
from time to time, by some unseen clue known only to them, they
plunged into the water. Further inland, adult penguins climbed to
                  higher elevations along trails created from
                  thousands of penguin feet that had trampled
                  down the snow throughout the course of the
                  breeding season. While many of the juveniles
                  were standing in one place quietly molting,
                  others were not as advanced in their
                  development and still bore all their fluffy
                  down. Many “feeding chases” took place during
                  our visit, in which one or two chicks that
                  wished to be fed frenziedly ran after an adult
                  parent that had recently returned to shore with
                  a belly of food. Most nests, composed of
                  pebbles, had been abandoned by now, but there
were several nests with very young chicks still being guarded by
a parent; these chicks were hatched very late in the season, and
will not be able to complete their development before the harsh
Antarctic fall weather descends upon them. Brown Skuas fed on
penguin carcasses, and Snowy Sheathbills patrolled the nesting
area to scavenge what nourishment they could find.

     Just below the peaks surrounding the bay is Rudolph Glacier.
On its surface are great faults and fracture lines caused by the
glacial ice moving slowly over rocks towards the bay. More than a
dozen times during our visit a resounding boom cracked the
stillness of the air as a bit of glacier broke off (“calved”),
the process by which icebergs are born. Marco wisely advised
everyone to stay at least 100 meters from the edge of the
glacier, in case a large calving occurred which would cause the
placid shore waters to rise very quickly.

     Expedition staff Samuel and Rodolpho led an invigorating hike
to the top of a ridge above the bay, where we found ourselves at
a loss for words to describe the stunning panoramic view. The
360o vista of this breath-taking location was worth the
occasional huffing and puffing on the way up.

     We may have been intoxicated by the glorious scenery but it
did not dampen our appetites, and though few of us would have
thought of enjoying an outdoor lunch in Antarctica, a barbeque
buffet lunch was organized by the hotel
staff out on deck 5, aft. As we ate lunch
on deck, the surrounding razor-sharp peaks
sharply contrasted with the seemingly soft
layers of snow blanketing the advancing,
hanging glaciers. Lunch was pleasantly
interrupted by the sighting of three
Humpback Whales close to the ship. The

Antarctic area is a rich feeding ground for humpbacks, and the
captain’s skillful maneuvering of the Corinthian II allowed us to
experience some excellent views of this trio of whales.

Melchior Islands Longitude 62º 59’W / Latitude 64º 20’S

     From Andvord Bay we crossed the Gerlache Strait to the
Melchior Islands, a collection of rocky islets between the larger
Anvers and Brabant Islands. There we viewed the coastline of the
islands and their inhabitants – Antarctic Fur Seals, Kelp Gulls,
Antarctic Terns, and Chinstrap Penguins – from our flotilla of
zodiacs, as the sun broke through and shone benevolently on the
calm seas. An Argentine supply ship arrived during our visit to
do some repairs to the Argentine base Melchior, which is
currently uninhabited. Leaving the Melchior Islands, we said our
goodbyes to the Antarctic Peninsula and set sail for the South
Shetland Islands.

             During the evening recap while we enjoyed drinks,
           Orrin Pilkey shared his enthusiasm for the geological
           features he had noted and photographed during our
           zodiac excursion in the Melchior Islands. Expedition
           staff member Rodolpho Kinkelin then gave us an
           introduction to a near-future lecture on Antarctic
           fisheries, including those for krill. Jean Kenyon
           gave a brief synopsis of the ozone hole, the effects
           of which on terrestrial and marine ecosystems are
           being studied at Palmer Station. Marco then described
           tomorrow’s activities, and invited us to enjoy
           another excellent dinner in the restaurant graciously
           provided by the dining staff.

Friday, February 27, 2009
Deception Island/Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands

Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island, South Shetland Islands

     We awoke to exquisite sea conditions that became ever more
benevolent as Corinthian II entered the caldera of Deception
Island in the South Shetlands through the opening known as
Neptune’s Bellows. The sight was magnificent to those who watched
from the deck as we approached the jagged black cliffs and deep
brown volcanic slopes that characterize this dormant volcanic

     The caldera (the collapsed cone of a volcano that has become
filled with seawater) is almost round and about 9.2 miles in
diameter. As we proceeded close to Whaler’s Bay, the small bay
just beyond the entrance, steam could be seen rising from the
dark volcanic beach, which is littered with whalebones and rusted
remnants of its past history as a whaling station.

     This Norwegian whaling station, which opened in 1910 and
closed in 1931, was an ideal location for whaling, a sheltered
location with deep water. It was also here that the first
Antarctic flight was made – Sir Hubert Wilkins made a short
flight on Nov 16, 1928. There was a British presence with the
British Antarctic Survey having a Station at
Briscoe House. Deception volcano erupted
numerous times between 1800 and 1969. The whole
site was abandoned in 1969 when the nearby
volcano erupted, covering everything in lava ash
and debris.

  Since its discovery in 1820, this active
volcanic island has been a forefront for human
activity. Remains of the old whaling station
were littered with remnants of the past such as
boilers, oil tanks, houses, a dry dock, pieces
of barrels, and remains of boats. It was
fascinating and a bit melancholy walking along

the high tide line, looking inshore to weathered waterboats, the
occasional penguin, and large numbers of Brown Skuas. Dozens of
Antarctic Fur Seals and a Weddell Seal were resting just above
the tide line, and those who chose to hike up to Neptune’s Window
had to navigate this moving gauntlet of fur seals. The 360o
panoramic view from Neptune’s Window took in the expanse of the
caldera with Corinthian II calmly at anchor, as well as the open
sea outside the caldera and the craggy cliffs where Cape Petrels

     After leaving Whaler’s Bay, it was just a short ride
onboard ship to an adjacent bay, Pendulum Cove, where intrepid
                  adventurers who were willing to briefly leave
                  creature comforts behind them stripped down to
                  a bathing suit and tested the icy waters of the
                  cove, each according to his or her personal
                  limits. It was a humorously chaotic affair,
                  with those who chose to stay warm and dry in
                  their parkas giving moral support and taking
                  photographs of those who wished to experience
                  an ultimate, unforgettable moment of frigid
                  shock. Steam rose incongruously from the icy
                  water, giving a surreal appearance to the
                  comically unruly scene.

Hannah Point, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands

     We left Deception Island just before lunch, again passing
through the craggy, impressive opening known as Neptune’s
Bellows, and headed north towards Livingston Island, the site of
our last disembarkation in the Antarctic region, Hannah Point. It
proved to be an exquisite conclusion to our sampling of the
wildlife, topography, and scenery afforded by our journey in the

Antarctic region over the past six days. The seas were nearly
flat calm, the skies were sunny and blue, and the air temperature
hovered near 40oF, far warmer than the winter temperatures many
of us left in the northern hemisphere just a short while ago and
will return to soon. Even our seasoned expedition staff, who have
collectively spent considerable time in the
Antarctic region, marveled at the beauty of the
day. A raucous rookery of Chinstrap Penguins
was positioned just a short climb above the
landing site, with most birds engaged in
molting. Further on a rookery of Gentoo
Penguins was scattered across the sloping
hillside, with most of these also molting. Our
eyes, adjusted over the past several days to
subtle shades of black, white, and gray,
quickly picked up the refreshing green color of
Deschampsia grass, one of the few native
flowering plants to be found in the Antarctic
region. A highlight of the visit ashore was several aggregations
of Southern Elephant Seals which, like the penguins, were engaged
in molting, albeit skin and fur rather than feathers. Like the
                   penguins, Elephant Seals undergo an annual molt
                   that renews the waterproof protection of their
                   pelt. These enormous animals (the males, with
                   their distinctive proboscis, can attain four
                   tons in weight) piled together in groups that
                   likely provide additional warmth while they are
                   molting. Unlike the Antarctic Fur Seals, which
                   were scattered about the beach, the Elephant
                   Seals posed no danger to us, as they move quite
                   slowly and are not territorial at this time of
                   year. Many guests walked along the gently
                   sloping bluff to a flat beach of black volcanic
                   sand, ending at a pile of fossils that has been
assembled over the years by previous visitors. The walk back to
the landing over the coarse sand was a good opportunity to
stretch our legs and get some exercise in the fresh, invigorating

     As Corinthian II turned towards her northerly course, it was
not easy for us to leave this stark land so full of life yet so
hostile to our notions of home. Yet surely each person left with
a wealth of special memories to sustain them for many years to

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Sailing the Drake Passage

09:00 Position: Longitude:            63º 33’W
                Latitude:             60º 05’S
                Wind:                 NE 15-20 knots

                Sea:                  NE swells of 3-4 meters
                Air temperature:      42ºF
                Sea temperature:      39ºF
                Ship’s speed:         13.0 knots

     We rolled our way north, an occasional bump and shudder
punctuating the movements of the ship. The leisurely day was
variously spent by guests according to their particular
inclination. Some played cards or games in the lounge, while
others read or diligently typed away on their laptop computer. A
number of lectures were offered by the expedition staff that
highlighted particular areas of their expertise. Samuel Blanc
presented “Overwintering in Adelie Land” describing the
challenges and rewards of spending an entire
winter in the Antarctic. Trevor Potts
presented “In the Wake of Shackleton”, a
personal account of replicating the legendary
journey of Ernest Shackleton and his men from
Elephant Island to South Georgia, albeit, by
Trevor’s admission, without all the hardships.
In the afternoon, Jean Kenyon offered “Climate
Change on the Antarctic Peninsula”, describing
some of the physical and biological changes
currently taking place in response to elevated
air and sea temperatures in the region we just
visited; Jean noted that the rate of
temperature increase on the Antarctic Peninsula
in the past 50 years is five times greater than
elsewhere globally. The last presentation of the day was by
Rodolpho Kinkelin, “Antarctic Krill and Biology: Management and
Conservation” describing the work in which Rodolpho is presently

    In the evening, we were hardly recognizable without our red
jackets and guano-stained boots as we entered the Lounge
transformed for the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner.

                           “At sea the albatross and little
                           petrel fly as if the storm were their
                           proper sphere, and the water rises and
                           sinks as if fulfilling its usual task,
                           the ship alone and its inhabitants
                           seem the object of wrath”

                           Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

Sunday, March 1, 2009
Sailing the Drake Passage/Beagle Channel/Ushuaia

08:30 Position: Longitude:            66º 15’W
                Latitude:             55º 12’S
                Wind:                 SW 15-20 knots
                Sea:                  slight
                Air temperature:      46ºF
                Sea temperature:      48ºF
                Ship’s speed:         9.0 knots

    We awoke to low-rolling seas from the starboard stern, a
welcome relief after yesterday’s incessant pitch and roll. The
skies were gray and promised rain, but several enthusiastic
guests were nonetheless on deck to drink in a last day’s view of
the region’s unique assemblage of seabirds.

     Our final day at sea was packed with several lectures and
other events. Orrin Pilkey, our Guest Lecturer from Duke
University Alumni Association, shared his passion for coastal
geology in his presentation “Rising Seas and Shifting Shores”.
Afterwards, our Maitre’d Bogdan escorted interested guests on a
visit to the galley where the ample and sumptuous meals served
onboard Corinthian II are prepared. Cruise Director Peter Graham
gave an important disembarkation briefing that outlined the
procedures that will make our onward journeys both efficient and
pleasant. After our last ample lunch buffet onboard, Trevor Potts
from the Expedition Staff offered “Shackleton’s Mountain
Crossing”, a personal account of crossing the island of South
Georgia while replicating the legendary journey of Ernest
Shackleton and his men. Before we pulled into Ushuaia, a final
and quite unexpected recap was given by the Expedition Staff. A
slide show of photographic images assembled by all the staff
members throughout our voyage was presented, and we learned that
we would receive a copy of this presentation on CD when we
disembarked tomorrow, along with a map of our travels, a day-by-
day wildlife-sighting list, this illustrated expedition log, and
contact information for our fellow passengers. It seems our
expedition staff has been even busier than we knew!

     By late morning we eased into the Beagle Channel and picked
up our Argentine pilot into Ushuaia. On deck our naturalists
spotted several birds swooping around the ship – Giant Petrels,
Sooty Shearwaters, South American Terns, and Rock Cormorants, as
well as some rafts of Magellanic penguins in the water, all
signifying our return to a very different habitat than that we
had experienced in Antarctica.

Beagle Channel

If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be
Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it
is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still
as it should be. May we never tame it.
                                                      Andrew Denton


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